A lot of people have gone overboard with the concept of socialisation. And even more people have completely misunderstood what it really means!
As dog trainers when we talk about socialisation we don’t mean take your dog out and let him/her meet every dog you come across. Far from it, because that is a recipe for disaster.
Socialisation quite simply means teaching them about the world and their place within it. This is true for a puppy, a young dog, or even an older or rescue dog without the requisite life skills.
Socialisation means letting your dog see and become accustomed to things they’ve never seen or experienced before. When you do this, take care to make sure that your dog doesn’t become overwhelmed. It’s a teaching exercise every time you step outside the front door. Sights, smells, sounds, it’s all information to your dog.
The objective is for your dog to remain disinterested and passive to all of the various forms of stimuli. Loud noises, hoovers, surround sound TV, cars, bikes, skateboards, other dogs, people wearing hats, horses and riders, livestock, cats, squirrels, children squealing and running around.
You must always advocate for your dog. Don’t let people grab at your puppy to pet them and don’t let other dogs come charging over to say hello even if the owner insists “It’s OK he’s friendly”. It’s not OK. It’s your responsibility to manage these interactions and be firm with other people about what is and isn’t acceptable.
You want to make sure that your dog feels safe and protected by you and that your relationship is firmly established as a team, where you lead and they follow. This will help ensure that the socialisation experience is a positive one.
Get out there and show your furry love what this world has to offer and keep training to make sure they’re well mannered and can go with you everywhere! Make the most of your life together!